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"Gold is a harsh mistress, lad. A man kin chase 'er half way across the Rockies and court 'er for a thousand moons and she'll leave him penniless and wasted of soul. Then deny ever knowin' 'im if anyone should ask about claimin' the body."

~ unknown prospector

In the Shattered Frontier, one can hardly turn around without hearing the latest embellished story of a glorious new strike of gold and silver. The lure of precious metals and the promise of untold riches can inflict 'gold fever' on otherwise sensible men as they proceed to abandon home and family and race off to grab their share. Fortune seekers from as far away as Europe have come scrambling to the great expanses of the west to claim their piece of the action.

The rumormongers would have you believe that gold is just waiting to be scooped up by the pan or shovel and that nuggets so big they can trip a horse lie in nearby mountain streams.

Unfortunately, when it comes to bestowing her blessings on those with a greed-laden heart, Lady Luck has a discerning eye and a mischievous heart. The sad truth is that for every prospector who has climbed back down out of the hills loaded with gold, a thousand others with dust in their beards and aches in their backs have returned empty handed -- sullen individuals who look as though they've had their very souls ripped from their chest. Hollow men with nothing to show for the many months, or even years, they spent pawing and scratching at earth and stream looking for color.

Discovery at Last Chance

Still, these men are more fortunate than others. Many who set out in search of gold found only death for their troubles - a fate some are glad to embrace if the alternative is returning home in disgrace.

Sheriff Patch of Lazarus once commented, "If ever I met the man who steps off that Wednesday stage who doesn't immediately buy a damn shovel, and a damn pan -- I'll shake the bastard's hand and buy 'em a drink. 'Cos he'll be the first sunuvabitch I've ever met who's had the God-given good sense not get caught up in such foolishness. Gold, or the want of it, has dealt out more misery on this sorry earth than any good man can imagine." This opinion is, however, courtesy of a man who spent four years stooping in the cold waters of the Animas swirling a gold pan with nothing to show for it.

Despite such tales of gloom and disappointment, there truly are fortunes to be made in the frontier. The hills and canyons of the San Juan range are laden with gold and silver deposits still waiting to be uncovered. Anyone with a little luck can dip a pan and come up with a few flakes of gold but prospecting requires a certain level of skill in order to make the enterprise worthwhile.

Every seasoned prospector has his own tricks of the trade, procedures that he guards closely. Acquiring the skills and know-how of prospecting isn't something you can learn from a book or by simply buying some gritty old timer a drink at the local watering hole and getting him to talk. It's something that's learned in the doing through time, sweat and patience.

It won't take long for players stepping off that stage to notice a few who struck it rich reveling in the fortune they've taken out of the hills and streams. Despite admonitions to the contrary, some doubtlessly will get bit by the fever and want to try their hands whether they're prepared for it or not...

Prospecting Downloads

Additional Gold District Maps are available

in our Downloads section!